Many consumers have begun to seek fuel-efficient cars in response to rising gas prices and growing concerns about the environment. Fuel-efficient cars come in a wide range of shapes and sizes suitable for people living a variety of lifestyles from sporty coupes to wagons. There are a few things to take into account when looking at lists of fuel-efficient cars. The first is that availability ranges from nation to nation: European countries typically have far more fuel-efficient cars than the United States, for example. The second is the fuel economy is greatly increased with knowledgeable use of a manual transmission.
In Europe, there has been a heavy focus on producing fuel-efficient cars for decades. Fuel efficiency requirements are far more stringent than they are in the United States, and American automakers actually make more fuel-efficient versions of their top sellers for the European markets. Manufacturers like Citroen, Fiat, Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, Peugeot, and Smart all make highly fuel-efficient cars for the European market, some of which are available in the United States as well, with searching, such as the Honda Fit and the SmartCar. Europe also uses more diesel power than the United States does: many of the most fuel efficient cars in Europe use diesel.
The most fuel-efficient cars in Europe generally have fuel efficiency over 64 miles to the imperial gallon, which translates to 180 kilometers per liter. The brands which routinely top the list include Citroen, Toyota, Renault, and Fiat. Many fuel-efficient models of cars from these manufacturers are available in other parts of the world including Africa and Asia, where a high premium is placed on gas efficiency as well.
In the United States, the most fuel-efficient cars have efficiency ranging from 30 miles per gallon to just over 60 (12 kilometers per liter to 25 kilometers per liter). Honda and Toyota both have models with very good gas mileage, including the Honda Insight and Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius. The Volkswagen diesel line-up, including the Golf and Jetta, is also generally fuel-efficient, as are some Hyundai offerings. The Prius released in the United States is less fuel efficient than the European Prius, as are the Volkswagens. As can be seen from this list, the United States has placed a heavy emphasis on making fuel-efficient hybrids, and appears to be less interested in diesel cars, although rising use of biodiesel may change this.
Availability of fuel-efficient cars varies from region to region, and it is important to understand that the way the car is driven impacts the fuel efficiency. Cars are most efficient when they are driven at a constant rate of speed: for example, on the freeway. Stop and go driving and idling in traffic will decrease fuel economy, as will the use of an automatic transmission, although automobile makers have made automatic cars much more efficient. Keeping your tires properly inflated and not overloading the car will also contribute to fuel efficiency.